God Uses People To Change Direction
“Ruby Bridges” — Ruby was born and “brought up to believe that God is always there to protect us.”* Little did she know that the first six years of her life that she would find herself in the very middle of great social unrest throughout America.
During her early years, she just enjoyed life like thousands of other children in Louisiana.
Those hot summers were good ones. When I fell into bed at night I was tired, yet happier than at any other time of my life. I took the summer for granted then, the way kids do, but I know they were a gift. Best of all was being with my grandmother and being one of her favorites. Her love and attention made me feel very special then — and even more so now.
Those happy summers would all fade away in but a few years! — when her public schooling began in the deep-south.
To understand how she found herself in the middle of a growing social movement across America, you would have to know at least a little of what was happening in America in the year that Ruby was born.
Ruby Bridges was born September 8, 1954. That day is worth noting because Ruby Bridges was born eight months and nine days after a landmark decision by the Supreme Court of the United States. The birth of Ruby on that day was never connected with that decision until five & six years later.
On the day of her birth, her family never imagined that they would be part of the story of a story which still impacts American life today — 64 years later.
What was happening in 1954? 1954 is marked by such events and people as . . . .
- President of The United States: Dwight Eisenhower – 1953-1961
- ML Baseball Players: Ted Williams, Stan Musial, Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, Mickey Mantle
- Roger Bannister: Breaks the four-minute mile
- Chiang Kai-shek: Becomes president of Nationalist China.
- IBM invest “electronic tube” that can perform 10 million calculations an hour.
- Elvis Presley: Cuts demo record in Nashville and records his first two songs that year.
- The Hudson Motor Car Company and the Nash-Kelvinator Corporation merge to create the American Motors Corporation.
- Jacques Cousteau: The first telecast of his underwater work is produced by CBS.
- First nuclear-powered submarine, USS Nautilus, is launched.
- Disney land breaks ground.
- Mass inoculation against polio (vaccine developed by Jonas Salk).
- First Color Television sold.
- “Father Knows Best” produced
- First color television advertisement made and seen.
- Television: Walter Cronkite, Steve Allen, Jack Parr begin their careers.
- First solar cell developed.
- Kentucky Derby: Winning horse – ” Determine.”
- The V-8 engine developed and sold by Chevy.
- Benjamin O. Davis Jr. becomes the first black General in the U.S. Airforce.
- Brown v. Board of Education – 9-0 decision by the Supreme Court of the U.S.
- Ruby Bridges was born.
Yes, that SCOTUS decision changed American life. “Brown v. Board of Education” was decided by the Supreme Court of the United States on May 17, 1954. It was a 9-0 decision — which held that “separated educational facilities are inherently unequal.”
Up to this point, “Plessy v. Ferguson” – 1896 – was the Supreme Court ruling which governed the land — separate facilities for different races were allowed and did not violate the Fourteenth Amendment as long as the separate facilities were equal.
In 1960, Ruby was six years old and had been attending an all-black segregated school. In her biography, “Through My Eyes,” she states . . . .
“When it was time for me to start kindergarten, I went to Johnson Lockett Elementary School. My segregated school was fairly far from my house, but I had lots of company for the long walk.
What I didn’t know in kindergarten was that a federal court in New Orleans was about to force two white public schools to admit black students. The plan was to integrate only the first fraud for that year. Then, every year after that, the incoming first grade would also be integrated.
In the late spring of my year at Johnson Lockett, the city school board began testing black kindergartners. They wanted to find out which children should be sent to the white schools. I took the test. I was only five, and I’m sure I didn’t have any idea why I was taking it. Still. I remember that day. I remember getting dressed up and riding uptown on the bus with my mother, and sitting in an enormous room in the school board building along with about a hundred other black kids, all waiting to be tested.
Apparently, the test was difficult, and I’ve been told that it was set up so that kids would have a hard time passing.”
Well, Ruby passed that test and would be one of the four children who would attend an all-white school that year- William Frantz Public School. However . . . .
“When September cane that year, I didn’t start first grade at William Frantz. The lawmakers in the state capital, Baton Rouge, had found a way to slow down integration, so I was sent back to my old school. I didn’t know I was ever supposed to go to school anywhere else, so being back at Johnson Lockett was fine with me.”
In 1960, Ruby Bridges would be the sole black student attending an all-white Public School in the deep south state of Louisiana.
“There were four of us in all. There was a fifth girl originally, but her parents decided at the last minute not to transfer her. There of the remaining children, all girls were to go to a school named Mcdonough. I was the fourth child. I was going to integrate William Frantz Public School, and I was going alone.”
One of the articles written about Ruby Bridges is titled, “In A Class Of Only One.” In the article, it reveals the innocence of young black girls during this tumultuous time in American life.
“That first afternoon Ruby taught a friend a chant she had learned: “Two, four, six, eight, we don’t want to integrate.” Neither of the little girls knew what the words meant, but they began to jump rope to it every day after school.”
Ruby Bridges finished grade school from Frantz, graduated from an integrated high school in New Orleans, attended Kansas City Business school, married in 1984, worked for American Express, and now chairs the “Ruby Bridges Foundation,” created to promote racial harmony.
Normal Rockwell memorialized the Ruby Bridges story in a painting in 1963
Pulitzer Prize winner, Robert Coles, published “The Story of Ruby Bridges,” in 1995.
Disney produced a documentary titled, “Ruby Bridges” which aired in 1998.
Key Illustrative Thoughts:
God IS always there to protect us.
What are you teaching your child in the early years of life?
“Summers” will end one day in our lives.
The only one! / There alone!
Turning hate into a song
Two, four, six, eight — Who do we appreciate.
Sometimes, it is best not to know everything which is happening.
Somebody has to do it, if things are going to change.
The Providential workings of God
How does God want to use you in His Kingdom?
What are you willing to face to make a difference?
Today – Immigration: Let’s not make this mistake again.
A little child shall lead them.
Born in the middle of it all.
One of six who — Tested and Passed
Some trials in life are not really understood by those who go through it at the time.
At times, there is a real price to pay for courageous decisions.
“I helped change that.”
from: “Scholastic” – Level 2
*”Through My Eyes” by Ruby Bridges
Other notes and links
“The Bridges family suffered for their decision to send her to William Frantz Elementary: her father, whose parents were sharecroppers, lost his job as a gas station attendant, the grocery store the family shopped at would no longer let them shop there, and her grandparents, who were sharecroppers in Mississippi, were turned off their land. She has noted that many others in the community, both black and white, showed support in a variety of ways. Some white families continued to send their children to Frantz despite the protests, a neighbor provided her father with a new job, and local people babysat, watched the house as protectors, and walked behind the federal marshals’ car on the trips to school.” — https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ruby_Bridges